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What is reality?

Often there are posts in social media such as Facebook where people say things such as "My reality". This is an odd statement. "My perspective" might be more accurate.
Taoism and Zen are not 'philosophical'. Schrödinger's cat and other examples are seen as being sophistry.
'Reality' is defined as "the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them." Reality is simply the truth of what exists. Right in front of us.

Really real

'Real' is defined as "actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed."
Reality refers to fact. Tangible, provable, tactile evidence. If we cannot touch it, hear it, taste it, smell it or see it, we don't speculate.


Everyone perceives reality subjectively.
The degree of attention they have, how aware they are, how much they listen, memories, education, bias, influences, opinions and agenda all affect how and what they see.
But only to a point.
And this is the important part...

I like reality. It tastes of bread.

(Jean Aouilh)


A chair is a chair. An exercise mat is an exercise mat. A dog is a dog. A man is a man. A woman is a woman. A child is a child. A house is a house. A car is a car. An apple is an apple.
It doesn't matter what language you speak, or whether you think in terms of your reality/my reality (or whatever) - rain will always be wet. Night will follow day.
There is much that exists that is not about fashion, point of view or opinion. Hungry is hungry. Tired is tired.

The science of the essence

It is quite easy to become a Taoist... Nothing is really required of you. There's no special costume to wear, no pendant, no haircut, tattoo or holy book to read. There are no services to attend.
No rituals. No beliefs. No money to give. No code of conduct. No dogma. In simple terms, Taoism is not what most people would call a religion. Nor is Zen (in contrast with Zen Buddhism).
The science of the essence is all about waking up. Seeing what is right in front of you. And learning from what is really taking place.
Hey, that's it...
Tai chi is one outcome of doing just that.


Admitting the limitations of thought and language is a principle theme in Taoism and Zen. Nothing is more immediate than the actual.
The word for car is not a car, and if you eat a menu it will not taste like the food it describes. Krishnamurti explored this same topic extensively in his teachings.


Taoism and Zen are about seeing things as they really are. Seeing what is right in front of you. To accomplish this you need to clear your mind.
Adding clutter such as a special new name, a costume, a special place to meditate etc will not help you to accomplish this. In fact, the more you add, the further away you get from reality.
It is about paring away the things that occlude reality, not substituting one thing for another.

Your reality?

The problem with thinking of reality as being your own is that it is fundamentally unsound. If somebody punches you in the face, you cannot turn their hand into a bunch of flowers.
Rain will continue to make you wet and snow will be cold. You can get run over by a car. You can get sick and you can die.
Thinking of 'reality' as being an entirely subjective experience is delusional. 


Reality is. Whether you like it or not. If you snooze in your bed all day long the rest of the world will continue to move around you. Nothing will stop. Time won't stand still.
Implicating yourself as being the centre of reality is madness. You are not the core of the universe. You are the central figure in your life, your story. But that is all.
Everyone is unique. This is true. But we don't get to have our own reality. Just our own perception of reality and only to a point.

Try out your reality?

If you want concrete proof of 'your own reality', why not put it to the test?  Next time you're at the supermarket explain to the checkout assistant how in your reality you don't have to pay.
You'll find out how tangible the Police are and how real a jail cell is. Try it when driving your car or not paying your utility bills. Test it on your health.
If you have your own reality, then the medically proven facts that affect everyone else won't matter to you. Drink, drugs, fatty food... You must be immune to their effects. 
Don't let reality stop you! After all, 'your own reality' is real, isn't it?

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Page created 18 April 2005
Last updated 04 May 2023